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After CJ Sapong weighed in, it’s time to stop defending Aleksandar Katai

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It wasn’t just “his wife,” as Sen. Tom Cotton suggests

MLS: LA Galaxy at Houston Dynamo
Katai for the LA Galaxy
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As if you didn’t need any more proof we’re living in the strangest possible time, Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton talked about former LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire player Aleksandar Katai on the Senate floor yesterday.

Really.

Cotton was railing against “cancel culture” and defended Katai, claiming Katai “was fired for his wife’s tweet. Not his own. His wife’s tweet.”

First of all, it wasn’t a tweet, it was his wife’s Instagram story posts. And second of all, after what we learned from his former teammate CJ Sapong, there was likely a lot more going on with Katai than just a couple racist posts by his wife.

Sapong was a guest on “The Cooligans,” when Christian Polanco asked him what he thought of Katai being released by the Galaxy.

CJ paused, took a sip of his tea, and unloaded.

“Personally, if you all want some juice, I’ve had my own experience with Katai himself,” Sapong said. “So seeing that from his wife all but confirmed what I had already known, what I had already experienced. It feels good to talk about this.”

Sapong talked about his trade from the Philadelphia Union, and how Katai made him feel when he got to Chicago. He even noted many times he’s had teammates that are quiet and keep to themselves, but said with Katai it was something more.

“Being a minority and I’m on this new team, I’m just trying to show I’m a worthy teammate, meeting everybody, trying to talk to people when I can, and I swear Katai did not look me in the eyes for the first two months I was there,” Sapong said. “And the whole time I’m just like, ‘Damn!’ In my experience I’ve come across some players that they’re just to themselves, they’re reserved, they want to come in, train, go score some goals, get their check, call it a day. I’ve seen those players, I know how to deal with them, give them their space. But bro, when we’re in the game and I’m trying to communicate with you something so that we can collaborate better for the team, and you can’t even look at me in my face? What’s going on here?”

That’s when Sapong mentioned something a lot of Fire fans noticed last year. On a team that could have made the playoffs with a few more goals, Katai loved shooting from horrible angles. Most of us just chalked that up to Katai being selfish, or trying to force something.

CJ saw it another way.

“I went to great lengths, I remember it got so bad. I swear, this dude was not passing to me when I was in scoring positions. This man is at impossible angle, I’m making the back post run, there’s an open goal, he’s trying to shoot it upper 90 from a 30 degree angle. I’m pulling up clips with coaches: ‘Look at these runs. What can I do better?’ Because I just want to hear the reaction, I want to hear the response.”

“I’m not throwing anybody under the bus, the response wasn’t, ‘Aw, no, we don’t see it.’ It was ‘Damn, we see it, we don’t know how to approach it. Maybe we know what it is, we don’t know how to say it to you.’ I felt that energy,” he said.

After the original clip posted last night, the majority of fans seemed to side with CJ. A few, however, claimed Sapong was reading too much into Katai’s actions, and repeated the idea that Katai shouldn’t have lost his job for something his wife said.

In many cases, I’d agree with that last point, at least initially. But this wasn’t just Katai’s wife’s comments. Clearly, there was more going on. The Galaxy no doubt saw that, just as Sapong did last season.

So, if you’re like Sen. Cotton, still repeating that “wife’s tweets” talking point without choosing to learn anything more, you’re being willfully ignorant.

I’m with CJ. And I’m sorry my sons and I spent the last couple seasons cheering for Katai.